Verdict: Writer Ted Galdi obviously knows what he's doing, and his prose shows practiced skill. Interesting characters raise AN AMERICAN CAGE above the usual thriller and for that it is well worth the read.
A group of three cons escape a Texas prison and try to make it to Mexico, and freedom. It’s not the most original idea for a story (getting to Mexico isn’t the panacea for escapees it probably once was) but there are enough twists and turns in this action-adventure to keep the reader turning pages. The characters are enjoyable on the page, each one different and unexpected traits, and their byplay is sometimes highly entertaining.
Phil and Danny are the main escapees. Phil’s an off-the-chart genius, a manipulative sort; Danny’s easily manipulated. After the first twist, they strike out without the third inmate, Monty, and pick up a hitchhiker named Jane, who has her own story to tell. Between the three of them, driving an old Buick across Texas, they drop clues like breadcrumbs—those clues collected by small-town detective Ramos, who can’t quite make sense of them.
The book is nicely written, in present tense like a screenplay, with a mix of dialogue and action, and very little description—a pleasant style. Some of the surprises weren’t too surprising, but many were, and it’s nice the way the book always lets the reader know things aren’t quite what they seem. It’s far more than an escape tale, with criminal activity of all sorts featured, and a number of social issues raised. It’s reminiscent of No Country for Old Men and other contemporary crime Westerns. In particular, it echoes the age-old theme of how the innocent don’t stand a chance against the truly evil, and how sociopaths and psychopaths have the advantage over caring people who suffer human, painful emotions, leaving them vulnerable in a hostile world. This is hard-boiled material told in a hard-boiled way. For readers who like that sort of fiction, AN AMERICAN CAGE is right up their dark alley.
Writer Ted Galdi obviously knows what he’s doing, and his prose shows practiced skill; he’s got a couple of other works in this genre. While this one’s not terribly original, the characters do get under your skin, and for that, AN AMERICAN CAGE is well worth it.
~Dave Eisenstark for IndieReader